Many given mornings, we open the skinny little pantry cupboard doors to pull out cereal and are all but buried under the weight of bulk bags tied with string, Weck jars balanced precariously on pasta packages, and a pile of specialty oils. This is not because I am a slob, or because I keep my kitchen in disarray — this “mess” is actually pretty easy to navigate if you know what you’re looking for – what went in and when. What can you expect when a chef moves into a kitchen designed for a Top Ramen-addicted bachelor?
So, I like to challenge myself with little “quick fire challenges” to utilize all of the extra odds and ends that are hiding in the back of the cupboard. This one was a piece of cake (or really, a cookie bar….)
I am not sure where the ginger snap cookies came from, or the can of sweetened condensed milk, but very fresh in my memory bank is a 2nd grade public speaking project wherein I taught my classmates how to make “Magic Cookie Bars.” They were so simple that, well, a 2nd grader could make them. And so delicious, that the pastry chef she turned into has yet to forget them.
Second-grade students are learning to follow directions, but pastry chefs are wired to create their own and so this new take has a Moroccan flair that matched perfectly with our first cups of evening chai tea as the rain fell in San Francisco this week. These pair nicely with movie night, or as a special treat with Sunday dinner and keep very well if kept in the freezer….this also proved to prevent us from eating them all while pondering what to eat as we sifted through the dwindling pantry in the following days.
LIterally, there are three steps here: make crust, pour/scatter ingredients, bake.
Oh, and then EAT. I put them together while making pasta, and chopping us up a nice salad. By the time we had finished dinner, the bars were done baking. Abracadabra! 🙂 – xo L
- 1 1/2 cups ginger snap cookie crumbs
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 -14 oz. can organic sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup evenly chopped 65-70% dark chocolate
- 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut (big flakes are fun here)
- 1 cup chopped medjool dates
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Gloop a bit of cold coconut oil onto a paper towel and lightly grease the sides of an 8x8 baking pan. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the ginger snap crumbs with the melted butter until it resembles an even, coarse sand. Press the crumb mixture firmly into bottom of prepared pan, being sure to get into the corners and creating an even layer all over the pan bottom. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with dates, cashews and chocolate and coconut; press down firmly with fork.
- Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes or until the coconut is lightly browned. Loosen from sides of pan while still warm, then place the pan on a wire rack to cool. Cut into your desired shape and size.
- *For perfectly cut cookie bars, line entire pan with foil, extending foil over edge of pan - grease the foil. After bars have baked and cooled, lift up by edges of foil to remove from pan. Cut into individual bars.